A beautiful oak door is opened by an usher wearing a suit. He beckons me inside with his white gloved hands. “Welcome to the Graduate Lounge, Flossie” he says, smiling. “Thank you.” I reply, smiling back. A sudden intake of breath . . . to my left, is a bank of running shoes of all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours pinned to the wall. I walk towards them. Then I notice a square glass tile on the floor with two footprints on it. The usher gestures for me to stand on the tile. I do so. All of a sudden, the trainers that are not my size on the wall fade into the background and those that are my size and perfect for my gait come forward, jostling for position, wavering as if to say “pick me, pick me!” Oh, I am a bit overwhelmed, I hadn’t expected this. I look at the usher and explain that I have just bought a new pair of shoes, perhaps I don’t need another pair just yet. “It’s fine, Flossie,” he replies, “go ahead, you can choose any pair you like” another reassuring smile passes across his face. “Oh well, then, if you insist.” But which pair to choose? Oh those are pretty, the blue ones, but I’ve already got some turquoise ones. Hmm, what to do . . . “could I have the fuchsia pink ones please?” (They’ll go with my complexion at the end of my runs!)
I then move on to what can only be described as a clear glass tube (a bit like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when someone goes up a chute, but it isn’t a chute, more like the size of an old telephone box). The usher gestures for me to get in, again with his reassuring smile. So I do. Within seconds I appear to have been x-rayed or something. I walk out of the “tube” and suddenly in front of me beautiful running tops magically appear, along with ¾ length capris, tights, jackets, socks (twin lined, of course) together they look like the colours of liquorice allsorts. As I walk forward, I am transformed into wearing the most attractive running outfit, all colours beautifully co-ordinated and matching my hair colour and my complexion. That tube must have been a mixture of a “Colour-Me-Beautiful” machine combined with a measuring one!
Fabulous! I walk further on and I see a treadmill. “Please . . .” the usher gestures me to get on the treadmill. I get on it, a little nervously, and the machine counts down “3-2-1- GO” I start running, it’s a perfect pace for me. “How long do I run for?” I ask the usher, who is standing to my left, but, before he can answer, the treadmill stops. “Please, put your phone on here.” He gesticulates to a glass podium with a small rectangular glass tile. I do as he says. My phone lights up for a split second and then switches off. “What happened?” I ask the usher. “Your phone now has all your favourite music on it so that it plays at the perfect beat to your run rate, Flossie.” “Oh, how amazing, thank you!” I reply.
Now I have arrived at a glass room, everything is clear and bright. “So now Flossie, you get to choose where you would like to run.” “What do you mean?” “Well, you can run anywhere in the world, in any season . . . your choice, you can even run up in the sky or under the sea, this is a virtual running machine, you see.” “Oh my, how wonderful. Well, could I perhaps have a medley of lots of different places around the world, including the sky and the sea?” “That’s not necessary, Flossie, you have plenty of time, you are always welcome to return to the Graduate Lounge whenever you want.” “Oh can I? Oh well then, in that case . . . how about under the sea? But will I need Scuba gear and what about running against the currents?” “Don’t worry about that, you don’t need Scuba gear and the water won’t act as resistance against you either. This is a magical machine.” (Silly me, of course it is). “If I am running along the sea bed, I don’t want to damage the coral . . .” “You won’t, it will be fine.” “Oh alright, if you’re sure!”
The usher leaves and I am now in the glass room, all on my own. Within moments I am underwater, in the sea, it’s warm, but it can’t be too deep, because I can see the sunlight breaking through above me. It’s twinkling like jewels on the surface of the sea and a beam of sunlight is directly in front of me. The sea is a beautiful cerulean blue. I begin to run, the usher is right, no scuba gear required here. It’s just like a giant aquarium. There are blue fusiliers to my right, orange and white clown fish in front of me, red coral grouper to my left and a myriad of glassfish all around. In the distance I can see a graceful manta ray coming towards me. There is a pod of dolphins playing, spinning up out of the sea and splashing back down into the water. Then I hear Laura’s voice “Well done, your 30 minutes’ running is up.” Oh really, so soon?
I walk out of the glass room . . . to my left is a smart, modern, trendy bar. “What can I get you?” the barman asks. “Well, I really should rehydrate first, after my run, so a large glass of water, please.” “No need, your body has automatically rehydrated when you came out of the running room,” responds the barman. Oh, of course, it would do, wouldn’t it, this is magic, I forgot. It doesn’t need to stretch afterwards, either. “In that case, I’ll have a glass of champagne!” I walk further on to see a beautiful array of salads, mixed, green, Waldorf, Niçoise . . . I select the salade Niçoise. Then there are stunning fresh fruits, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, kiwi, grapes, watermelon, ogen, cantaloupe and honeydew. I pick a little bit of everything. I walk towards a table of Graduates, all smiling and chatting, eating their delicious fare. “Hello, I’m Flossie, I’m new here, may I join you?”